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St. Joseph Island firefighters rescue two boys from lake (3 photos)

Kayaking boys caught between two sheets of ice

Firefighters from several St. Joseph Island fire departments rushed to the scene after reports were called in shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday regarding two boys, aged 12 and eight, in distress at Twin Lakes, an inland body of water on St. Joseph Island.

“The boys were out on two separate kayaks. What appears to have happened is that the wind came up while they were out kayaking around the ice and one of two big ice sheets moved...they got ‘pinched’ when the two ice sheets came together and they couldn’t get away in time,” said Fraser Adams, Township of St. Joseph Fire and Rescue fire chief, speaking to SooToday Monday.

Adams said the two kayakers were stuck on what he described as “slushy ice.”

“They were a good 300 feet away from water on each side and right in the middle of these two ice sheets that came together and stuck. There was someone there on a boat trying to get to them, a 16-foot boat, but he couldn’t push through it, so at that point we were called,” Adams said.

St. Joseph Township Fire and Rescue, along with Hilton Beach and Township of Jocelyn fire services, were on scene, the three departments working together. 

“We got two-thirds of the way down the lake where the boys were stuck. We have an inflatable boat and two people went out with a line from shore and they struggled pretty hard to get out to where the boys were,” Adams said, estimating it took at least half an hour to get to the stranded pair.

“When they got three-quarters of the way out they were able to crawl with their boat out to where they were, going through every now and then, and they were able to hook a rope onto the two kayaks and pull them in.”

Adams said the Johnson Township Fire Department of Desbarats, with a flat bottom boat, along with a local contractor with a heavier boat, were also ready to help out.

“When you hear about kids in trouble on the ice you put as many plans as you can think of into motion, so if one doesn’t work the next one’s lined up and ready to go.”

Adams said an ambulance was called “but (the boys) were walking around and talking, they seemed fine...the parents were certainly glad to see them.” 

“It was very scary. Whether it’s a car accident, or kids in a precarious icy situation, those are the two scariest types of calls we get.”

“Had the ice been thicker, or if they had tipped over at that distance out, they wouldn’t be alive because of the exposure at this time of year, and it was a very strong wind. It would’ve been very catastrophic,” Adams said.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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